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'I love America': Native of Egypt grows vegetables on small farm

Hany Hanna checks on his grape crop on his small farm on Hacks Bridge Road in Guys, Tenn.

Photo by Steve Beavers / Independent Appeal

By Steve Beavers

Independent Appeal

GUYS, Tenn. "" Hany Hanna knows how to grow fresh vegetables.

It's in his blood. The knowledge has been passed down from his grandfather and father.

The 37-year-old Guys, Tenn., man was looking for land when he came to Nashville from his native country of Egypt. Hanna spent almost four years working at the Opryland Hotel before finding land in McNairy County.

"I didn't find any land in Nashville that wasn't too expensive," said Hanna. "This is a good place with good people."

Hany "" and his wife Amira "" bought around 29 acres on Hack Bridge Road in Guys. The couple and their three daughters "" Selvia, Varina and Melani "" feel right at home in the south end of the county. They also enjoy attending Sunday School and church services at Oakland Baptist Church in Corinth.

A United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan helped him fund six greenhouses in his operation.

"Everything is good and we haven't seen any bad people," said Hany. "I love America."

Hany's day starts around 4 a.m. every morning. There is a lot to gather to be carried to market.

"I go to Nashville three or four days a week to sell at Egyptian stores," he said. "I am looking for a store to buy or rent there."

Local customers make stops at the Hanna's home.

"They are looking for tomatoes right now," he said.

Hany planted 1,300 tomato plants in one of his six greenhouses. In the next few weeks, he will plant 2,000 more.

"I need one of my brothers to come help," he said with a smile of all the work he will do -- mostly on his own.

All sorts of vegetables are grown by Hanna, including watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, okra, green beans, butter beans, purple hull peas, eggplants (black and white), hot pepper, sweet pepper, green beans, grapes, figs and pumpkins.

Everything is grown through the use of an irrigation system made by Hanna.

"The way I do things is different," he said. "No one else is doing it this way."

He plants everything by hand although he has a tractor.

"I know the right amount to put in there," he said. "That machine might put too much or not enough."

Most customers get more than what they pay for when they stop at the Hannas. If someone is looking for a certain vegetable, Hanna adds something extra for them to try at no cost.

"I help everyone," he said. "I want them to try vegetables grown a different way."

Hanna would like to add six to 12 more greenhouses in the future.

"I would like for all of it to be in greenhouses," said Hanna. "I could control it better."

Fifteen-year-old Joseph Lambert has helped Hanna every other day the past two years.

"They are like family to me," said Lambert after playing with the three kids. "This is a good place to work and they are good people."